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  • WR comparison

    One of the frequent questions before major competition is which of the WRs are likely to be broken. While there is a general agreement on most records (100W close to impossible, men TJ very likely) there are still arguments about the likelihood of some record to be broken (e.g. women 10000w or men SP).
    This post is aimed at trying to answer this question using numbers rather than subjective opinion. Specifically, I will measure how close where the athletes in the last Olympic cycle (2013 – today) to break the WR in each of the individual events in T&F (not including road racing). The idea behind the measure is as follow. I assume that in order to break the WR an athlete first need to break to the top 250 performances (this is true for all current WRs except 10000w). Then, to break the WR the athlete need to break his PB again. It is those improvements that I focus on.

    For example, in the 100M the result in the 250 place is 9.91 that was achieved by 41 athletes. I examine the performance of these 41 athletes after they ran for the first time 9.91 (or below) and measure by how much they improve their PB. In the 100 the best improvement is by Bolt (0.11) when he set his current WR. The second best is Mullings (0.09) when he ran 9.8 in 2011. I do it for all athletes (note that some athletes broke their PB more than once) and sort them per these improvements. Then, I average the top-ten and receive a number (0.075 in the 100M) that represent the improvement in a very good competition for a top athlete.
    Finally, I measure the difference between the best performance in the last Olympic cycle (Gatlin 9.74) and the result needed to break the WR (9.57) and divide it by improvement measure. In the 100M case the “distance from WR” was (9.74-9.57)/0.075 = 2.267

  • #2
    The table below presents the distance from WR in ascending order. The number in brackets is the improvement measure
    TJ.........0.360......(0.250)
    1500....0.364......(1.925)
    HJ........0.769......(0.039)
    Dec.......0.923......(229.8)
    DT........0.953.......(2.361)
    3000sc...0.981......(4.883)
    10000...1.045......(25.674)
    SP........1.152......(0.495)
    PV........1.266......(0.079)
    110h......1.304......(0.115)
    200.......1.510......(0.245)
    400.......1.649......(0.382)
    800.......1.729......(0.723)
    5000.....1.787......(7.834)
    HT........2.041......(1.382)
    400h.....2.077......(0.443)
    100......2.267......(0.075)
    LJ.........2.436......(0.156)
    JT.........2.489......(2.318)

    Two technical notes:
    1. All altitude results are ignored
    2. If the WR set in the last Olympic cycle then I calculate the distance for the second best athlete in the Olympic cycle (e.g. Mayer in the decathlon) will break the WR

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    • #3
      The 250 mark probably needs to be scaled by frequency with which athletes compete (including attempts, if individual marks are used, not final event best mark). It is much easier to have someone with lots of marks in the 100 (Powell has a few) while the 10,000 is rarely run at a high level and so not too many marks by any one individual.

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